Nothing To See Here
What a super book! It isn’t long, but it’s gutsy. And fresh. And funny and sad. And filled with little gems of wisdom. And uplifting in the oddest of ways.
The protagonist of NOTHING TO SEE HERE by Kevin Wilson is 28-year-old Lillian Breaker, born to an unwed mother whose every act toward her smacks of dislike. In part to escape from home, the teenage Lillian earns a scholarship at a boarding school. Though she is bright and driven, the fact of being poor among the rich dooms her. Months into her time there, she is expelled. The one thing she takes from that abbreviated experience is her friendship with Madison Billings.
Years later, Madison — now the wife of a U.S. Senator and living the privileged life to which she was raised — offers Lillian the job of governess to her husband’s 10-year-old twins. The goal, with her husband’s political star rising, is to keep these children cared for but hidden. It seems that they have the remarkably fantastical, and often destructive, ability to burst into flames when upset.
Sound ridiculous? At the hands of Kevin Wilson, it is not. He makes this superhero-ish ability totally real and believable. More than that, he builds the connection between Lillian and the children in a heart-rending way. Lillian is an outspoken nonconformist who has never quite fit in; for this reason, though she knows nothing whatsoever about taking care of kids, much less teaching them as a governess would, she feels an instant rapport with the twins.
I can’t say more without giving away too much of the plot. But consider the title, please. I initially thought it related to the catchphrase attributed to police, “Move along folks, there’s nothing to see here,” meaning that there’s plenty here, but we’re keeping it hidden.
It wasn’t until I finished the book, though, that another meaning hit me. I haven’t read reviews or author interviews, so I don’t know what Mr. Wilson intended, but for me, the title implies that dysfunction has become the norm in our world.
In this book, it isn’t just the twins or Lillian. It’s uber-conservative do-bees Madison and her husband, and their very strange five-year-old son. And the twins’ grandparents? And Lillian’s mother? And the doctor the Senator hires to treat the twins? The list goes on, and their depictions by this author are alternately frighteningly spot-on and outrageously funny.
Remarkably, the author puts us so effectively into Lillian’s mind that we come to see the twins and her as normal, just as she does. Dysfunction is in the eyes of the beholder. There’s nothing to see here, folks.
This one’s a thoroughly enjoyable read.